Two SC schools part of St John wellbeing programme pilot
‘‘It has come at the right time with Covid, as children had some anxiety and were feeling stressed.’’ Glenavy deputy principal and teacher Georgie Dobbs
Prepping for high school, family breakups, and Covid-19 are among the stresses faced by New Zealand’s young people, South Canterbury teachers say.
‘‘There is a growing need for children to learn about wellness, and there is a lot going on in schools to promote it,’’ Oceanview Heights senior teacher Janice Carter said.
Timaru’s Oceanview Heights and the Waimate District’s Glenavy School are two of six primary and intermediate schools across New Zealand to trial the St John Weaving Wellbeing Wha¯tuia te Waiora programme over term 3, with both wrapping up the 10-week course during Mental Health Awareness Week this week.
Carter said the programme helped her class, made up of 27 year 6-8 pupils, develop strategies to cope with puberty, the impending move from primary to secondary school, ‘‘familial changes’’, and the ‘‘current climate’’ created by Covid-19.
‘‘The only certainty in life change,’’ Carter said.
The programme had also taught pupils how to be resilient and where their strengths lay, she said.
‘‘I think this programme would be good for senior classes as well.
‘‘I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in the pilot.’’
Glenavy deputy principal and teacher Georgie Dobbs, whose class also took part in the programme, said the pupils found it ‘‘very valuable’’.
‘‘They had to think about strategies to build their te whare is tapa wha¯ (physical, mental, spiritual, and family wellbeing).
‘‘The children got a lot from it,’’ Dobbs said.
‘‘It has come at the right time with Covid, as children had some anxiety and were feeling stressed.’’
Glenavy principal Kate Mansfield said that because many of the pupils came from dairying families, their general wellbeing did not suffer during lockdown because they had plenty of space and activities to keep them occupied.
‘‘However, academically, we have found Covid has caused difficulties with learning,’’ Mansfield said.
‘‘Children were worried or anxious about going in and out of lockdown. This has given them skills or strategies about how to cope with that, what to do in certain situations.’’
Dobbs said 27 of the school’s year 6-8 pupils had taken part in the programme.
‘‘They are from our peer mediation group and have been able to take these calming techniques into the playground to help other children.’’
Both South Canterbury schools praised the programme’s facilitator,
Sasha Frame, with Carter describing her as ‘‘terrific’’.
A St John spokesman said the pilot programme had been rolled out to six schools in Auckland, Taranaki, South Canterbury and Southland. ‘‘Currently, St John does not have the funding to provide the programme to more schools across New Zealand. However, we would love to roll out the programme nationally in the near future.’’ Oceanview Heights and Glenavy were picked because the charity’s educators had a good relationship with the schools, the spokesman said.
Molia Togagae, 10, and Akansha Nadan, 12, with some of the work they have been doing at the 10-week St John Weaving Wellbeing pilot programme.